I writing this for my friend Tonya and anyone else who might be planning a trip to the Big Apple. Please enjoy the city for all the amazing beauty, the architecture, the diversity, the history, the art and its charm.
Manhattan is my favorite city. I have thousands more to visit. Thus far; New York City is my number one! I’ve visited many times and I do have a short list of things I do every time I am here, others that I have done and would recommend to others and finally the things that are on my wish list for this visit – I will include all three. I am not a veteran New Yorker – I am sure a local would have a different list to share.
Here is a short list of preparations before you arrive:
- Pick up a “pop-out” map of the city…it will be an invaluable resource while you are here. It is small enough to stow in your purse or pocket. It is stiff and laminated so it won’t bend or wrinkle. It has a full street map and transit map of Manhattan. I know you have Google maps on your phone, but I promise you will want to see the city from “head-to-toe” on occasion.
- Download the Transit app . The app tells you what public transportation options are available where ever you are in the city. It keeps you apprised of their impended arrival times and the various routes. It works in NYC and other large cities in the U.S.
- Check the weather before you leave. There are some great times of the year to be in NYC – for me, I love it anytime except in the heat of the summer.
If it will be cold, expect to be freezing when you’re outside and cooking when you’re inside. Be prepared to shed layers when you go inside. If it is going to be hot (sweltering is more the term for summer here), expect the opposite. It will be humid and unbearable outside and chilly inside. Regardless of what time of year you are here, plan to be outside. To truly enjoy the city, you have get out and hoof it!
- You cannot come to NYC and not see a show. Download these two apps to help you locate affordable theater tickets.
- Walking in Central Park is a MUST DO! To make it more enjoyable and interesting download the Central Park App. You’ll get a map of the park, event listings and audio guides of the park’s attractions.
- And finally, Happy Hour Finder. There are bars on every block and I love to have a cocktail…anytime of day. But a girl on a budget is forever looking for the economical options. Thanks to Happy Hour Finder I am able to find the local happy hours.
And upon arriving, get you’re Metro Card! Taking a taxi everywhere is expensive and unnecessary. Public transportation in New York is not only very easy; it is part of the experience!
Here is my little list of MUST DO’s, those in GREEN I do every time I am here. The others are things you should do at least once.
- Walk the city and enjoy the grandness of it all!
Walk through Central Park. Wander, get lost. There is a whole city inside the park! Wanna know how cool it is; I’ve written a little comparison between Central Park and my local urban park; Griffith Park of Los Angeles.
- Eat New York-style. Find a place for a good slice! NY pizza is a special thing. And stop at one of the thousands of hot dog vendors and get a NYC hot dog. Ask around…they are not all the same…some are better than others.
- Take the subway (you can’t visit NYC and not get a Metro card!)
- Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island if you have time.
- Go to the Tenement Museum. This is a wonderful little museum and gives a unique look into the lives of the millions of immigrants who made NYC their home.
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the subway to Brooklyn, have a late lunch and then walk across as the sunsets. It is a beautiful walk – cold maybe – but the view is worth it!
- Visit the museums. MET and Guggenheim are my favorites. The MET is $25 for adults, but as listed on their website, “Admission fees are suggested donations” – so every day is “pay what you want” at the MET. Feel free to offer up less if you are on a budget. When you are at the MET, visit the Petrie Court Café, even if it is just for a pastry and tea. The view of the park from the floor-to-ceiling windows is worth the $15 to sit an enjoy it. There is also a Roof Garden – that is only open during the warmer months.
The Guggenheim is free at 5:45 pm every Saturday evening. The museum closes at 7:45 on Saturday, but 2-hours should be plenty to wander through the museum.
* Here is a list of the free museum days in NYC.
- Take a stroll through the Central Library. It is an amazing building. When you walk up to the front you will be welcomed by a pair of marble lions, Patience and Fortitude. The building was opened to the public in May of 1911. Inside, there is marble everywhere, it is huge and spectacular. Bring a book and make your way up to the third floor, sit in one of the rooms, read and take in the beauty of the building!
A couple detours when you are at the library. 1) Check out Bryant Park, it is situated behind the Library, and it a lovely little square with a reading café, ping pong tables, and in the winter an ice skating rink. 2) There is lovely little bar across the street, Bookmarks on the 14th floor of the Library Hotel. It is a sweet little bar with outdoor seating and a gorgeous view of the city.
- Shove your way through the tourist invasion in Times Square. And when you’ve had enough of the crowd – you can find a perch at the New York Marriott Marquis. This is my secret spot! Don’t tell everyone. The Broadway Lounge is on the 8th Floor of the Marriott Marquis and it has a perfect view of Times Square. I’ve never seen a crowd here. Find a seat by window, order a cup of coffee, a cocktail or a full meal here…whatever your budget allows. Then you can settle in and watch the madness below.
- Walk, shop and eat in Grand Central Station. If you take public transportation while you are in NYC, you will inevitably end up at Grand Central Station at least once. It is a must see. Just as described it is the hub of the city’s transportation. Check out:
- See a show! Any show. On Broadway, off-Broadway. Using the apps I suggested above you can find discounted tickets to shows. Find something of interest…there are comedies, dramas, musicals, magic shows, music performances, vaudeville type shows – anything the heart desires!
A short list of things you can do if you have the time and money:
- Check out the view from the top of the Empire State Building. This a huge tourist attraction – expect to wait in lines and pay the entrance fee. The view is pretty amazing, and if you’ve never been it is a great place to relive the moments of “Sleepless in Seattle”
- Take the free ferry over to Staten Island. The ferry is free and there is a full view of the NYC skyline. When I went over in September of this year, the girls and I found a perfect spot for pizza and beer, Pier 76. Highly recommended it.
- Wander through the famed, historic New York hotels. The Plaza! Home to the fictional and fabulous Eloise. The Waldorf Astoria – an art-deco hotel, the current location opened in 1931 and was the tallest and largest hotel in world at the time.
- Get tickets to a live taping. You can see Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, Seth Myers! Do it!
- Check out the Brooklyn Flea Market. A huge indoor market with crafts, vintage items and tons of amazing food. This is a great thing to do in the afternoon before taking the stroll back across the bridge for a little peaceful walk with a view.
- Visit one of the many culinary options in Hell’s kitchen.
- Get Dim Sum in Chinatown, or meatballs in Little Italy.
- Walk through Rockefeller Center, have lunch and shop.
- Catch a show at Carnegie Hall.
- One World Trade Center and the 911 Memorial
- Walk through St Patrick’s Cathedral
- Checkout the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botantical Gardens.
And I have a small list of things I added to my list for this trip:
- The highlight of this trip will be suffering through the crowded madness in Time Square on New Year’s Eve! Stay tuned for pictures and the full story.
- See as many shows as physically and financially possible.
- Find local jazz, repeatedly.
See local, free music; like Jazz at St. Peter’s Church. There is a free jazz concert every Wednesday at 1 pm.
- Walk through Central Park, like I live here.
- Do brunch – Sex in the City style!
- Take in all the art and creative energies available in the local museums and the art galleries in Chelsea.
- Walk along the High Line. I read about this wonderful transformation of space a few years ago. I wanted to visit last time I was here but there wasn’t time…or I was too cold! This time!
- Visit the Brooklyn Art Library. I have a couple of sketchbooks on display here.
- Visit the New York Transit Museum
- See the Christmas tree festivities at Rockefeller Centers
Just for Tonya and anyone else who spends quality time on the Upper East side; here are some places to eat, drink and be merry.
Coffee, Snacks and Lunch
@ York & 76th Street
- Heidi’ House
308 E. 78th Street
- Gotham Pizza
76th and York
- Bagels & Co.
1428 York Avenue
- Brandy’s Piano Bar
235 East 88th Street
- Swig Bar and Grill
1629 2nd Avenue
- The Pony Bar
1444 1st Avenue
- DT UP
1744 Second Avenue
- Lexington Bar and Books
1020 Lexington Avenue
Smile….and enjoy the CITY!!!